Between the showers. Pobbles Bay July 2017.

It has been a while since I posted on here and brought you some pictures of Gower beaches. It is amazing how any new activity you do steals time away from your other activities. This summer I have been really concentrating on my running, at the
expense of my walking. Molly has really missed out on our beach walks too.

I ran the INVNCBL Obstacle Course Race (OCR) at the start of July in Pembrey
Country Park. It was awesome, hard but I would recommend it. I over trained and
have picked up Planar Fasciitis which has also impacted my walking. Add to that I
fell running and have hurt one of my ribs, so no surfing. But I have now healed to the
point Molly and I can get out down Pobbles Bay, Gower between the summer
showers.

You can follow my walking and running at my Strava page, and here is a link to the
walk I have walked and photographed in this post.

I am also using a partner app to Strava, called Relive which plots my Strava activity
on 3D aerial maps. You can see a video of this walk here.

This was a quick 3km walk Molly and I do when we are pressed for time or the
weather is not looking too good. It is straight down and back up from Pobbles Bay
past Pennard Golf Club. Here is Molly checking out the new golf club sign.

This year managed grazing has been introduced in Three Cliffs Valley which is
adjacent to Pobbles Bay.

There is a herd of cows munching the vegetation around the bay. Hopefully avoiding the ragwort as it is poisonous to grazing stock.

Recently the cows have taken to grazing on the actual Three Cliffs
themselves. It is quite a strange sight to see these hill climbing cows, especially
when the tide is in.

It also means I need to keep Molly on a lead. It is best practice to always keep your
dog on a lead around livestock. The last thing I would want is to worry the herd and
them running off the cliff edge.

Mind you she still manages to stalk them even when she is still safely on the lead.

The cows stay off the beach, so it is ok for Molly to run free in the sand there.
Pobbles is a great little beach when the tide is in.

It is a really fun beach for learning bodyboarding when it gets a bit of a swell.

It is best surfed on the rising tide, but can get a little boxed in on the higher tide.

It is great for swimming too and much safer than Three Cliffs which has a very hazardous current from the river.

You can learn more about Pobbles Bay in the DimExcuses Pobbles Beach Guide here. Pobbles is Molly and my favorite beach, we need to get down there a little more this summer, DimExcuses.

Almost Summer. Three Cliffs Bay, 28th May 2017.

Finally summer is nearly upon us, leap frogging over a cool but dry start to spring in South Wales. So as we head into the second bank holiday in May 2017 there was no where else to go but Three Cliffs Bay, Gower.

This time Molly, Sharon and I brought along some family and friends.

We took our regular Pennard Castle, Three Cliffs and Pobbles Bay loop. Pennard Golf Club have done some path work over spring that has improved the walk past the water tower. Molly knows the way like the back of her paw, so she was soon at Pennard Castle.

Suns out, tongues out!

Everyone else wasn’t far behind. The view at Pennard Castle is one of the highlights of Gower.

We were there on a massive low tide, so we could drop into the valley and walk into Three Cliffs Bay. It was one of those low tides where you could have walked all the way from Oxwich on the sand if you wanted.

Perfect conditions for the DimExcuses end of summer walk. But seeing as summer is almost upon us it is not even near the time of year for that walk. Not that Molly was bothered she loves our Three Cliffs Walks.

So spring has almost gone and it is almost summer, plenty of time to get down the beach, DimExcuses.

Spring has Sprung. Three Cliffs Bay March 2017.

Spring has sprung. After a relatively cold snap to end winter in Gower, we have bounced into a cracking spring at the end of March 2017.

So it was back to business for Sharon, Molly and me as we headed out in the sun on our classic Pennard Castle, Three Cliffs loop in South Gower. We were joined by Molly’s newest friend Max and his family.

Max is a Jack Russell puppy. He seemed totally un-phased by the walk and was soon tearing it up with Molly.

Three Cliffs Valley was looking fantastic in the spring sun as we approached Three Cliffs Bay itself.

The key thing with Three Cliffs is to watch the tide, and we demonstrated that by getting through the famous cave that separates the bay from Pobbles just in time. Max left it to the very last second before the tide cut us off.

Molly was soon showing Max the fun that can be had on a trip to the beach.

We finished of the wak with a stop in Onboard Surf & Coffee Shop on the way home. It is a great place for a coffee and a cake, and totally dog friendly. Alas we missed the fresh Gower doughnuts again. One day I shall have one, it is a mission now.

Molly was totally shattered, it is hard work keeping up with a puppy!

A cracking day and a great start to Spring. Hopefully we will have a lot more of these walks this year, DimExcuses.

It is a big walk in Gower. DimExcuses end of summer walk 2016.

DimExcuses End of Summer Walk

“Let’s make one thing clear” Darren Green informed our small group in a windy Rhossili car park, “it is the DimExcuses end of summer walk, always has been and always will be” referring to our traditional September walk now in its seventh year. “A big Gower walk it maybe, but that is note its name”. I stand corrected.

DimExcuses Gower Walk

The DimExcuses end of summer walk is a nine hour, 17 to 19 mile walk (dependent on the tide) from Rhossili Bay along the South Gower Coast to the village of Bishopston. It takes in the South Gower bays of Rhossili, Fall Bay, Mewslade, Port Eynon, Horton, Slade, Oxwich, Tor Bay, Three Cliffs, Pobbles, Heatherslade, Hunts Bay and Pwll Du. You get to see it all, you will definitely find your epic as the hours and miles mount up.

DimExcuses Gower

You can see pictures from previous years by clicking the dates below.

2013 pictures, 2014 Pictures, 2015 pictures.

This year we were a small contingent, made up of founding members Darren Green and Paul Jones, regular walker Ade Price, myself and the new feet of Chris Bidder and Rachel Bidder. As always we start off on the first bus out of Swansea into Gower.

First bus out of Swansea to Gower

Arriving in a windy and cloudy Rhossili it is a obligatory group selfie before going cross country to get a full fry up in Port Eynon.

DimExcuses End of Summer Walk

It was certainly a windy one.

Windy Gower Walk

There is always something new every year on the end of summer walk and this year it was the breakfast. We have always loved the Captains Table cafe in Port Eynon, trying to stop there each year for a fine breakfast. This year it is in new hands and the breakfast was outstanding. The Captains Table (facebook page here) does a range of breakfasts, small, large, veggie small, veggie large and the almighty Captain’s Breakfast. We all had a Captain’s Breakfast, setting a record for the most Captain’s Breakfast ordered in one go, DimExcuses.

Captain's Breakfast Port Eynon

Now powered by a Captain’s Breakfast we head off under the clouds along the Wales Coast Path to Oxwich. Sometimes it was a straight and narrow path,  a very narrow path.

Gower the straight and narrow path

We passed another group using a map. No maps for us, just keep the sea to your right. That seemed to work as we successfully got to Oxwich. A quick pint of Gower Gold to wash away the remains of that breakfast and then we were off across the beach.

Apint of Gower Gold at Oxwich

The beach was quickly followed by a climb over Great Tor to Three Cliffs.

Climbing Great Tor

The tide was in so we had to climb over Three Cliffs too.

Three Cliffs DimExcuses Walk

From Three Cliffs it was a walk to the South Gate Club for some more Gower Gold before the final leg through Pwll Du Bay and finishing in The Joiners Arms in Bishopston for several pints of Three Cliffs Gold.

No map, no compass

With weary feet and big smiles we finished the epic walk and narrowly avoided the heavy rain. You can see all the photos from our adventure in the gallery below. We are all looking forward to the DimExcuses end of summer walk next year. You should come, DimExcuses.

How green is my valley & coast? Three Cliffs, Gower July 2016.

Basically very green. A wet July has given us unlimited water and long days for plants to grow, as anyone with a “constantly needing cutting” lawn will tell you. I had to do a double take going through these photos before posting them. Everything was that green! Three Cliffs Bay was glowing green, not the normal sun faded pastel colours of a normal July. The vegetation is thriving in these wet, warm long days of July 2016.

Molly the Frenchton and I took our famous Three Cliffs walking loop, starting at Pennard and heading out around the golf course to Pennard Castle.

Pennard Castle is perched high above Three Cliffs Valley and this gives you a fantastic view of the famous bay.

Pennard Castle

There are loads of cows grazing the paths around Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles Bay at the moment so make sure you get your dog on a lead when you pass this livestock. I had Molly back on her lead whenever I saw the cows, which was fortunate, seeing what we encountered later on.

Three Cliffs Cows

There are two choices when doing the circular walk from Three Cliffs to Pobbles Bay. Firstly you can follow the boardwalk around the dunes and cliffs. You can walk that boardwalk anytime. The other option is to drop down into the valley. This second option is tide dependent and involves a steep decent. It is a steep sandy slope made famous in the Darth Manion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge. Here is a picture of the path as it winds through the woods.

Pennard Castle path to Three Cliffs Valley

Once in Three Cliffs Valley it is a short walk to Three Cliffs Bay itself. Molly had decided that she was a rock climber.

Rock Climbing Dog at Three Cliffs

Standing majestic taking in the view of the bay.

DimExcuses Three Cliffs

We barely made it through the cave in Three Cliffs that leads to Pobbles Bay. We just got through as the sea was cutting the two bays off from each other (I said it was tide dependent). Molly had a dip in the incoming tide, which had a nice little wave coming in.

Molly Three Cliffs

Pobbles Bay has some fantastic limestone rock outcrops to discover.

Incoming tide at Pobbles Bay Gower

Molly was having a good look at this Pobbles Bay limestone.

Molly looking at Pobbles limestone

Here is the whole of Pobbles Bay, cliffs topped with rich green grass, as the tide comes into this popular Gower beach.

Pobbles Bay July 2016

We added an extra bit onto our normal loop and climbed out of Pobbles onto Pennard Cliffs, walking around to Southgate. This gave a different perspective looking from Pobbles towards Three Cliffs Bay. You can see Pennard Cliffs without going to Three Cliffs by walking a loop from the National Trust car park in Southgate.

Gower July 2016

One thing did surprise me seeing the two Gower bays from the top of Pennard Cliffs, the tide comes much further into Three Cliffs Bay than it does in Pobbles Bay. I had never noticed that before.

Pobbles and Three Cliffs Bay Gower July 2016

As we followed the cliff path I saw another cow and put Molly back on her lead. Good thing I did, because I then noticed a load of afterbirth on the path as we approached the cow. She had just given birth to this calf!

Cow and new born calf, Gower July 2016

What a fantastic thing to see! But I kept Molly on a tight lead, as even a little dog can be a threat to such a young calf, and Mum would not stand for that. A cow can be a big and dangerous animal if a dog is threatening its young. We gave them the respect and distance needed that so that all parties were happy with the encounter. In summary, Gower is super green at the moment, cows are grazing the cliffs and dunes, and you should always keep your dog on lead around livestock, DimExcuses.

 

Pobbles Evening High Tide. 17th June 2016.

Pobbles Evening High Tide

I love these long light evenings as we approach the summer solstice. It gives me and Molly, the french bulldog plenty of time to get an evening walk down to Pobbles Bay, Gower.

Pobbles Bay High Tide

There is nothing as good as summer evening at the beach on high tide. And Pobbles Bay has to be one of the best beaches visit on a summer evening. Molly and I often get the beach to ourselves, but I am being to think that the Griffiths family live there as they have been there the last couple of times I have visited Pobbles.

Surf Pobbles

They were even in surfing last night! It is rare to get a surfable wave at Pobbles, but last night there was a cracking fun swell on the push of high tide, squeezing in between the rocks.

Surfing Pobbles

Now, if the Griffths are there, then that means that the other Molly will be there too. This Molly is a rescue staffie and that means double Molly trouble as the pair of dogs made the most of the surf.

A tale of two Mollies, Pobbles

The DimExcuses Molly was quick to point out though she was happy to share the sand, technically it is her beach.

Molly Pobbles

Pobbles Bay is adjacent to Three Cliffs Bay, so it is easy to get up on the spine of Three Cliffs itself to get some fantastic photos of the iconic cliffs at high tide.

On top of Three Cliffs

It is a great place to just sit down, chill out and appreciate the rugged beauty of the Gower coast.

Sitting on Three Cliffs

The view is equally spectacular looking out at the waves coming into Pobbles Bay.

Pobbles Waves

It looked like a lot of fun riding those summer evening waves.

Swell at Pobbles Bay

Molly is always one to appreciate a bit of surf.

Surf Bulldog at Pobbles Gower

Having found our evening sun and surf fix at high tide, it was time for Molly and I to head home, so I will leave you with one last picture of the Jewel of Gower, Three Cliffs Bay.

Summer evening Three Cliffs Bay

Spectacular, DimExcuses.

Gower business as usual. Three Cliffs Bay, April 2016.

Three Cliffs Walk

I should have posted these pictures ages ago. It has been a busy spring, between work, selfie benches and unseasonable weather followed by a fantastic start to June, I haven’t been out and about like normal.  But don’t think Molly the french bulldog and I didn’t get out in April and May.

Three Cliffs Splash

We still managed to do our famous Three Cliffs Bay Circular Walk, on a few occasions. These pictures are from the end of April.

Walking Three Cliffs

The Spring weather wasn’t doing us any favors at all but Three Cliffs still looked great. Back to business as usual, we started off at Pennard and headed out around the golf course to Pennard Castle.

Pennard Castle April 2016

The tide was out so we could take the steep sand dune down to Three Cliffs Valley. It is a steep sandy decent made famous in the Darth Mannion extreme running challenge.

Pennard Castle down to Three Cliffs Valley

Taking the boardwalk down the valley, alongside the river to Three Cliffs Bay itself.

Ilston Pil

The biggest news from Three Cliffs is that it now has a lifeguard station after a drowning last year. This is a very dangerous beach to swim due to the strong river that continues to run even after the tide has come in. The station is very subtle and doesn’t impact on the UK’s first area of outstanding natural beauty. Can you spot the Lifeguard hut in this photo?

Lifeguard Station Three Cliffs April 2016

Once you have found the lifeguard hut, have a look for these passing planes I photographed from the valley too.

Swansea Air Show

New lifeguards and passing airshow planes aside, it was definitely back to business as usual in our Gower walking.

Three Cliffs Bay April 2016

As always Molly the French bulldog was first up the rocks…

Three Cliffs April 2016

…and first back on the sand.

Molly Three Cliffs

Moving into Pobbles Bay we could see clearly all the way to Oxwich Bay.

Pobbles Bay view to Three Cliffs

We had the usual fetch in the rock pools.

Rockpools Pobbles April 2016

Before inspecting the bluebells on the way home.

Bluebells Pobbles April 2016

So that was Gower April 2016, business as usual. I promise to keep on top of posting in June, especially as we enter Summer sirf season, DimExcuses.

Darth Mannion 2016. Pennard Castle Full Gallery.

Darth Mannion Photos

The Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge is a half marathon across South Gower with river runs and sea submersions. Here is the full gallery of all 80 odd photos I took at the Pennard Castle section of this epic race.

You can read about the Pennard Castle section of the Darth Mannion 2016 here.

Have a good look through the gallery below and see if you can spot yourself or anyone you knew running, DimExcuses.

The Darth Mannion 2016. The Force Awakens, Pennard Castle.

Thumbs up! Darth Manion

This is the seventh year of the Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge, and my second year photographing it. You can read what happened last year, here. This year I am writing three posts on this half marathon across Gower with river runs and full sea submersions.

Darth Mannion 2016

I have already written about the Official DimExcuses runners #Team Bruvver, you can read about their exploits, here. This is the second post and features all the excitement in the steep dune descent from Pennard Castle into Three Cliffs Bay.

Darth Mannion Fun

When my girlfriend Sharon, myself and our dog Molly arrived at Pennard Castle we were shocked to see an exceptional high tide had flooded the valley floor entirely. It was a spectacular site for us as we often see this view, but never like this.

High tide flooding at Three Cliffs Bay

Luckily we were an hour early and the tide fell back in time for the runners to pass. In the meantime Molly was keeping a close eye on the course.

Molly Darth Mannion Course Inspection

It was about 10:15 when the first runners arrived at Pennard Castle.  They were already about 7 km into their grueling challenge.

Darth Runners Past Pennard Castle

The runners come across Pennard Golf Course and pass Pennard Castle before dropping straight down the steep dune side into the valley below.  There is a particularly steep hard section before you get into the deep sand and it took some navigating.

Down the dunes

With not everyone keeping their footing.

Careful steps, Darth Mannion

There were many familiar local faces. Katie below shows her husband Simon that he is not the only extreme sport nutter in the Gibbion household.  

Katie on the Darth Mannion

Pausing to catch a breath, before charging on down the dune.

#TheseGirlsCan Darth Mannion

There were plenty of official Darth Mannion Regulators, helpers and veteran runners to help the runners new to the Beach & Swamp Challenge.  Alun here has several Darths under his belt.

Alun Darth Mannion

And here is another regulator stopping to help the newbies through this difficult section.

A helping hand. Darth Mannion 2016

The runners were coming down the dune thick and fast now.

Darth Mannion Runners

There were five peloton groups of varying ability and over 120 runners.

Peloton

It is a tough race but there were a lot of smiles among the grimaces.

Darth Mannion, keep smiling

And extreme concentration getting down that bare earth section to the softer dunes below.

Slopestyle Darth Mannion

The regulators did a fantastic job of getting their pelotons down safe.

The Castle Run

Once on the soft sand it is plane sailing all the way to the valley and you can get some good bounces out of each step.

Soft sand

It wasn’t long before Darth himself was charging through with the elite runner peloton.

Darth Mannion Himself

The remaining pelotons weren’t far behind.

Keep bouncing

Even though it is a big field all the runners were through within twenty minutes of each other.

Keep on running! Darth Mannion 2016

Next through was Dom from Clyne Riders, with experience on his side from successfully completing the Darth last year too…

Dom Darth Mannion

…and there he goes.

Dom Slopestyle

There was the odd stumble…

The Odd Stumble

…but he’s ok folks.

...He's OK Folks

Some runners were just literally flying!

I am Flying!

Once again a great race and definitely worth watching it at Pennard Castle.  I have the river at Pwll Du Bay still to report on and I have over 80 pictures from this Pennard Castle section that I am posting in a separate gallery. So if you can’t see yourself here it might be worth looking there. I just need to get on photo editing, DimExcuses.

Three Cliffs Bay, Mother’s Day 2016

Molly Three Cliffs Bay

With a disappointing start to spring and generally cold weather, it was nice to have a cracking dry day for Mothering Sunday.

Three Cliffs Bay

I hope you made the most of your Mother’s Day. We got out down Three Cliffs Bay on me and Molly’s famous circular walk. You can see our route on strava here. At Pennard Castle we had to take the classic photo of the valley above, and with the tide out we could drop down into the valley. The steep slope is really challenging at the moment and I don’t envy the Darth Mannion Race Runners running down it next week!

Three Cliffs River (Illston Pill)

Once in the valley it is easy to walk along the board walk to Three Cliffs Bay itself.

Spring Three Cliffs

Though recent storms have eroded the sand and left many stones exposed so it is not that easy to walk along the river once in the bay.

Three Cliffs Cave

Getting through Three Cliffs Cave was particularly challenging.

Molly, Rocky and Sadie at Three Cliffs Bay.

You can see the sand erosion in the picture above. Molly was having a good nose around and was joined by her friends Rocky and Sadie. It was quite brisk at five degrees with a slight wind, but still a lovely day to get out, I hope you did too, DimExcuses.